October 21, 2014
Brad Nelson is our hero! Not only does he own a great snow sports shop, Hi Tempo Snowsports, volunteer his time to lead the NSSRA board, and do many other things as an industry leader, he is also now a member of a very elite group: IronMan triathlon finishers. We asked him about the experience and what it took to get ready for 140.6 miles of swimming, biking, and running. Here is his account:
The entire Ironman experience has been one of the defining moments of my life. This all started for me about two years ago. After cheering on my daughter in her previous 3 Ironman events I found my thinking about doing an Ironman move from “no way” to “I wonder if…”. Two years ago I decided on a two year goal of doing this before I turned 60. I play hockey twice a week and had a minimal level of fitness because of that but wasn’t at all ready for an event like an Ironman.
The swim was my biggest concern. If I had fallen out of a boat I would have been able to swim to shore but I didn’t know how to swim anywhere near like what it would take to do a triathlon. My mantra through this entire event was “if it’s been done, it must be possible”. So I took lessons and gradually got more and more comfortable at longer distances. I tried some sprint events that first year and worked up to a half iron by the end of that season. It was time to fish or cut bait on the idea and after volunteering at the Madison Wisconsin IM (necessary to get a priority registration slot for the following years event) I signed up for IM 2014.
I have to admit that I had under-anticipated the amount of training it would take to get ready for this. The January before the September Ironman I hired a training coach and a swim coach and between the two of them they whipped me into shape. They started my workout program 7 months before the event with 6 days/wk of swim bike run workouts of about an hour each. That built up to the final month of training where it was 6 days a week at about 20+ hours/week. The hardest part of the entire experience was making the time for the last month of training.
I’ve thought that for “regular” people like me, an event like this was my “Everest”. The day of the event was my chance to step onto the summit and achieve a tough goal. In no way was this event a race. It was a chance to hang out with a bunch of other “regular” people that had earned an opportunity to enjoy the day and in the end, join a small community of people that can call themselves an Ironman.
I expect that everyone that has finished an Ironman would say that the last 200 yards of the 140.6 miles is unlike any experience they have ever had. The sense of accomplishment, the roaring crowds, the congratulatory pats on the back from hundreds of anonymous strangers are absolutely overwhelming. It’s the reason so many of us break into tears in the finish paddock.
For all the people that have ever thought about doing an Ironman and told themselves that they could never do it, I would say, “you absolutely can do this”, and it is absolutely worth the effort. If a 59 year old non-athlete can do it, you can do it. Like most worthwhile goals in life, if you commit to the process you will achieve the goal.
Congratulations, Brad! You’re an inspiration to us! For more information about The National Snow Sports Retailers Association, and becoming a member, please contact Brad Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.